In Your Share This Week
- Cabbage, red
- Summer Squash
- Green Bell Peppers
- Japanese Eggplant
- Red Slicer Tomatoes
The flavors in the share this week finally taste like true summer! We have lots of hot weather crops that are just beginning to ripen around the farm- various types of eggplant, corn successions, our red slicing tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes not too far behind, and nice looking pepper plants with sweet and hot varieties.
Crop Rotations: Sometimes we offer certain items ‘on rotation’. What this means is that not every pick up site will receive the item this week, and that some folks might get it the following week instead. In the end, we ensure that all members will have received the same grand total of each item. This week is a great example: we have Japanese Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Green Bell Peppers ready…but all in insufficient quantities to give everybody. As such, you will see one of the three in your share this week, with more to come next week. We do our best to try and offer a very similar share across the entire week, and match it up well with Katherine’s recipes…but plants are just flat out hard to predict sometimes. I was very excited for a robust eggplant harvest this week, but the weather took a tun for cooler temps and the plants all came to a grinding halt…c’est la vie!
Basil: Bigger and better than ever! We decided to try a new trick…rather than the painful hours spent pinching little tips off basil plants (trust me, this adds up fast when you’re trying to get a decent amount for several hundred CSA members), we thought hey- why don’t we just cut the whole plant down and put it in the share? WIN! The pack house smelled amazing today as we packed out all the shares with those big ol’ basil plants in every box. You could either keep these in a vase of water on your countertop (the best), make pesto right away (second best), or store in a bag in the fridge after patting dry (least awesome). Basil will *tolerate* your home refrigerator, but not very well. It likes to be stored at around 50 degrees, not the near-freezing temps of a refrigerator. Over the course of a few days you will see the basil turn from a vibrant green to black and slimy. Its not because its not fresh, its because its too cold!
Cucumbers: This week we will start rotating some specialty cucumbers through the share! Folks will see Suyo Long, which is an absolute favorite of mine, as well as some lemon cucumbers. With both types, the skin has more spines than one might be familiar with on regular cucumbers. No worries, just wipe it down under some cool running water before you use them. I would also say that both have thinner skins than a standard green cucumber, so will be more prone to wilting in your refrigerator. Store in a plastic bag (dry, not washed) to prevent them from becoming wilted and rubbery.
Fennel: The fennel was growing faster than we could harvest this past two weeks! We valiantly tried to harvest the vast mountain of fennel that was all clamoring to be harvested at the same time…but some of it slipped a little past the moment when we would normally cut it. What you’ll see is that the bulb might have a more elongated and pointy shape- but it still tastes great! Just make sure you cut the core out when you prepare it. This might actually be a great thing if you want to try my very favorite way to have fennel- which is seared nice and good on the BBQ. Cut the bulb into quarters (the long core up the center will help hold the whole thing together on the grill) and rub with a pretty fearless amount of olive oil and salt. Sometimes I add lemon juice and minced garlic to the rub, or dress it with that at the end. Either way, grill it over a hot flame on all sides, letting it turn a nice caramelized brown all over. It’ll be super tender and savory at the end…yum!
Around the Farm
We’ve talked about some of the practices and techniques that we think make SIO special and also result in great tasting food bursting with vitality and homegrown goodness- things like our special soils, field management, fertility and cover cropping, etc. One of the other reasons we are so proud of our food has to do with the varieties we grow. Selecting crop varieties is something akin to curating a gallery collection; a living, evolving, edible gallery! We are always searching for new and exciting varieties…looking for all sorts of traits; disease resistance, color, texture, cold or heat tolerance, storage capabilities, and of course…flavor! We have our tried-and-true favorites that we rely on, but always love to tinker and dabble around with fun new things.
Our local seed companies are true heroes- working hard to preserve and improve the genetic banks that we rely upon. We love buying locally adapted seed whenever possible for a couple of reasons; we like to keep our money local and support our friends, and also we can really tell the difference between crops that have been hand selected and stewarded for success in our bioregion and with similar production techniques over other stock. Some of our favorite Cascadian seed growers that we love include Adaptive Seeds, Wild Garden Seed, and Uprising Seeds. All the care and love that went into breeding the varieties they offer shines through in our fields and all the way to the table. Biodiversity is so important to the health of the farm- small rotating plantings of a wide array of crops and plant families helps us to combat pests and disease naturally while protecting the health of the soil, but it goes one step further. We do our very best to set the stage for successful planting with field prep, timing, care, and cultivation, but within each planting we also rely upon a strong and diverse gene pool to provide us with robust plants that are able to thrive amidst all the craziness that mother nature throws their way. Definitely check out these seed companies- they offer unique items that you’ll never find anywhere else in addition to some good ol’ favorites.
All this talk of varieties piqued my curiosity…how many crops do we grow? Over 60 individual crop types. If you count each variety, we are up to around 250, and that doesn’t count blends/mixes that we plant for things like salad mix! A gross estimate of the number of plants on the farm (which is impossible to count exactly due to things that are direct seeded rather than transplanted) puts us at about 3 million!!! I have a personal affinity for nerding-out on tomato, winter squash, kale, and melon varieties…so we have unusually high concentrations of varietal diversity in those categories- with almost 30 types of winter squash (I could write a lengthy novel about each one), 24 types of tomatoes, and 13 types of kale. Some things like the kale and squash are heavily tilted towards winter production…so if you want a peek into the amazing and wondrous world of kale and winter squash diversity you should definitely consider signing up for a Winter CSA Share with us!!!
Next week we’ll take a tour of the greenhouse (its getting to be the last chance, since most of it is being converted for the season into our onion-curing facility) and look at odds and ends that are going on in the fields- its an exciting mixture of high summer production, cover crop stands, and baby plants that will become our overwintering crops…
DO YOU LIKE ICE CREAM?!?!?!?!?!
What could be better than ice cream that features the best-of in local vegetables? We’re excited to be partnering with Salt and Straw to help them create CARROT CAKE BATTER AND PRALINED HAZELNUTS summer ice cream. So go get in that infamous line before its too late, and have your carrots fresh from SIO in your share this week and in some amazing ice cream too!!! Last year we partnered with them on the green fennel and maple flavor…which is back again this summer and also not to be missed!